This video spoke to me. As a young man heard word of his cousin’s sexual assault, his immediate reaction is that of violence, anger, and retribution. Sometimes though, for a victim, revenge and retribution isn’t the first thing on their mind.
As a young man who has been through some unforgiving and perhaps unfair assaults myself, with a variety of contexts behind them, I can vouch for the instinct to seek physical and immediate revenge in the wake of an assault. As a guy, on that bloody-faced walk home, where you have to swallow the reality that you are physically hurting and without your pride, there is nothing more therapeutic than to hear friends’ voices fill the air with plans to strike back, or “make things right” for you.
But as I have learned, it is probably not a good idea to apply this thinking to each and every loved-one who endures some kind of sexual assault in your life. Sometimes, we need to focus on the victim before we point our pitchforks in the direction of the perpetrator—especially with assaults of a sexual nature, as they tend to be much more complex and multi-layered problems that cannot simply be resolved with a revenge plan. In fact, focusing on your friend – the victim – is the easier way to show your support, as opposed to committing your time and energy into investigating an assault.
As with the challenge of sticking your foot in your mouth, it comes down being able to acknowledge the humanity of the victim by looking at the entirety of the situation. Through equivocating a victim’s assault, or through offering a plan of brute revenge, we fail to look at the assault in its entirety, we are trying to apply a one-size-fits-all plan of action to one of the most personalized and nuanced things that can occur to a human through their whole life.
And most of all, don’t freak out.